Unlike the universities’ policy requiring students to be vaccinated against COVID-19, New Jersey’s community colleges show a different trend with respect to immunization.
According to New Jersey Council of County Colleges President Aaron R. Fichtner, of the 18 community colleges in the state, only Essex County College as of Tuesday is mandating student vaccinations.
As reported by Rob Jennings from NJ.com, the colleges´ vaccination status displays a sharp contrast to some of the state’s best-known universities, including at least four who set last Sunday as the deadline for students to submit documentation of being fully vaccinated against the coronavirus unless granted a medical or religious exemption.
Health officials at the state and national level have been encouraging additional vaccinations to stem a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths accelerated by the spread of the delta variant.
“Community colleges are commuter colleges. There’s a balance between trying to open the doors of economic opportunity to people and being restrictive,” said Fichtner, explaining that community colleges are promoting vaccinations and also encouraging students who are unwilling to consider enrolling in online courses.
Passaic County Community College is giving away laptop computers to five vaccinated students per week, said college president Steven M. Rose. “We’ll keep doing that.”
No residential students
Rose explained that the reluctance to require student COVID-19 vaccinations is in line with community college trends elsewhere. “Very, very few community colleges around the country are requiring vaccinations at this time.”
“We don’t have residential students. Residents halls are not an issue,” said Rose, citing one factor cited by universities in mandating vaccinations.
Rose added that community college students “always are a little more transient” and might be more inclined to skip a semester if uncomfortable with a vaccination requirement and that studies show that students who interrupt their education do not always return.
“Community college students often are dealing with a whole lot of obstacles in their lives. We’re trying not to put another one out there,” Rose said.